What Are SMART Goals for Project Managers? (With Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 19, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Project managers oversee the design, planning, and implementation of a project. Building a product, enhancing a system, or establishing a new corporate strategy often requires project management abilities. If you're a project manager, learning about SMART goals may help you succeed. In this article, we explain what SMART goals for project managers are, discuss why they're important, explore how to create them, and review examples of those goals in project management roles.

What are SMART goals for project managers?

You might be wondering, "What are SMART goals for project managers?". It's important for project managers to know how to write SMART goals to be effective in their roles. SMART is an acronym used to describe the goal-setting process. This technique allows you to assess your progress and take responsibility for your achievements. These objectives enable you to examine and analyze the steps you're taking to meet your targets.

For instance, you may want to improve your typing skills, but the SMART technique reveals that this is an ambiguous goal. By restating your goals in quantitative terms, such as wanting to type more words per minute, you have created an attainable SMART goal. Then, qualities of this objective may be refined to suit other criteria of the goal process. Here's a list of what each letter in the acronym SMART stands for to help you learn more about the concept:

S is for specific

Ensure that your goal states your intended result in a clear and detailed manner. As you may share this goal with others, your objective is for it to be straightforward and easy to understand. Use accurate language and include important information such as names and locations.

Related: How to Set Team Goals at Work (With Examples and Tips)

M is for measurable

Use figures and metrics to measure your progress toward your objective. Quantify the number of tasks to perform, the time they each require, and the overall number of hours your team works. Setting milestones allows you to re-evaluate and make changes as necessary.

A is for attainable

Consider time, resources, expenses, and other obstacles to decide if your objective is realistic. Examine recent outcomes, such as your average level of production, and use them as benchmarks for your new objective. Consider scheduling additional time for your project, as tasks sometimes take longer than intended. Recognize that although no process is perfect, setting an attainable goal enables you to make necessary adjustments and deliver a high-quality job on time.

R is for relevant

Check your project objectives frequently to ensure they're still relevant. Try to set goals that might result in significant, beneficial outcomes for the organization. Pursue objectives that bring value to the project, even if they demand a significant amount of time, money, or other commitments.

T is for time-based

Create a schedule and set deadlines for individual tasks and the full project. Perform weekly or monthly reviews to help ensure the project is progressing appropriately. You can distribute calendars, perhaps using a cloud-based web application, so the team is aware of approaching deadlines and events.

Why are SMART goals important?

SMART goals provide several benefits. They're specific, in contrast to the ambiguity of many goals, which increases the likelihood of accomplishment. SMART objectives involve your own strategies, which is helpful, as you may already be familiar with any necessary steps to take. Because they're also measurable, they allow you to monitor your progress and get back on schedule if you miss a smaller deadline within your overall target date.

How to choose SMART goals as a project manager

To help ensure that objectives are successful for each team and project, they may require preparation from the outset. Here's a list of steps to explain how project managers can set and achieve SMART goals:

1. Identify an area for improvement

Review elements such as the company's production objectives, reach, and possible improvement areas to see where SMART goals may be advantageous. Consider asking your team for anonymous feedback to see what they might change about the way the company operates. You may also examine client evaluations of the organization for improvement ideas.

2. Create a solution

After identifying possible needs in the organization, consider changes that may maximize efficiency and revenue. You may upgrade an outdated system to make it more user-friendly, recruit additional personnel, introduce a new marketing plan to increase the customer base or begin sourcing environmentally friendly products.

3. Develop a SMART goal

Transform your solution into a SMART goal. Consider writing your goal and going through each stage to help ensure that it's specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. You may organize a group meeting to include others in the SMART goal process to diversify ideas and opinions.

4. Consider the project's scope

Consider the company's values while setting SMART goals. Ensure that this goal can result in genuine, constructive, and essential organizational change. Consider how the realized objective might affect the organization and whether it aligns with the brand.

5. Create a powerful team

Developing a solid team is advantageous for achieving a SMART objective. Working with others may help you reach your objectives and finish tasks more quickly. Include your team in the development of SMART goals so you can cooperate and understand each other's perspectives during the project. Examples of developing a strong and productive team include:

  • Delegating and assigning tasks based on the talents and strengths of your team members

  • Developing a group calendar and setting up e-mail reminders for everyone on the team

  • Providing your team members with proper training and certifications

  • Planning team-building activities to increase morale, enthusiasm, and team bonding

Related: How to Write an Action Plan to Help You Achieve Your Goals

6. Make a comprehensive plan

Create a timetable and plan for your project. Use digital and printed maps, charts, and other visuals to communicate your ideas to all team members. Consider having a large storyboard of your project where team members can view it to monitor progress and keep everyone engaged.

7. Include rewards

Reward yourself and your team for little successes, such as the completion of minor tasks, to maintain strong morale. These incentives may include food and beverages, a social engagement, or gift cards. Positive reinforcement may motivate employees to be more productive.

Related: SMART Goals: Objectives for Your Career

Examples of goals for project managers

Project managers may establish professional and personal objectives to enhance their careers. Here are a few examples:

  • Create 12 instructional films in the next three months to post on the company's social media page and raise engagement by 20%.

  • Beginning at the end of the month, implement a weekly employee survey with 10 questions to measure employee satisfaction and enhance the employee training program.

  • Facilitate advertising contracts for three new websites during the next two months to increase website traffic by 30% and raise brand recognition.

  • By the end of the month, research and locate at least five graphic designers capable of producing three high-quality logo prototypes for brand development.

  • Schedule a team meeting for every Friday at 2:00 p.m. to discuss project progress and ensure on-time completion.

  • Create 15 standard operating procedures over the next three weeks to increase operational uniformity, training methodologies, and audit readiness.

  • Develop a business management software by the end of the year that can help clients organize information, pursue leads, and conduct e-commerce.

  • Enable all five managers within the company to attend a three-week-long leadership training program in January to expand their expertise and increase productivity.

  • Hire 10 new employees in two months to make content turnover three times faster and improve client satisfaction.

  • Starting in six weeks, perform five product quality checks on products before delivering them to improve client satisfaction by 30%.

  • Establish a shared messaging and calendar system by the end of the month to improve communication, facilitate collaboration, and increase transparency.


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